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Year in Review: Top 5 Topics of 2021

If 2020 was a year of dramatic change, then 2021 was a year defined by learning, experimentation, and action to push the design industry forward in uncertain times. Throughout the year, we explored the responsibility we have as an industry to ensure the future health and safety of our cities and communities through the power of design. Here are our five biggest trends and topics from a year of rebuilding and reconnection:

1. To Attract and Retain Talent, the Workplace Must Be a Destination

With competition for talent at an all-time high, companies are turning to the workplace to attract and retain employees. This means creating climate-conscious offices that prioritize people’s health and wellbeing, provide a variety of spaces for collaboration and focus work, and offer social activities to interact with peers and leadership.

Read Co-CEO Andy Cohen on Fortune: Great Workplace Design Can Combat “The Great Resignation”
Read the blogs:
Why Inclusive Design Is a Critical Advantage in the War for Talent
Here’s Why Employees and Top-Performing Companies Need the Office
Explore the research:
U.S. Workplace Survey Winter 2021

2. Experimentation Is Key; Prototypes and Pilots Are the New Normal

During a year of constantly shifting regulations and COVID variants, we’ve learned that experimentation, prototype spaces, and pilot programs are a low-risk, high-reward solutions that can guide decisions and drive organizational culture for years to come.

Read the blogs:
5 Trends CRE Leaders Can Use to Reimagine a New Workplace Reality
The Power of the Pilot: A Low-Risk High-Reward Real Estate Solution
See it in practice:
A Living Lab: Our Experience Designing Gensler Miami’s New Hybrid Office

3. Health & Wellness Remain Top of Mind for People Everywhere

People’s physical and mental well-being remains top of mind as they return to the spaces they vacated during the pandemic. Around the world, places of work, learning, healing, and living have been rethinking what it means to provide a healthy, supportive environment for all types of activities.

Read the blogs:
An 8-Step Model for ESG and Wellness in the Workplace
Charting a Better Course for Senior Living
Campus Masterplan 2.0: Including an Integrated Wellness Strategy
See it in practice:
Designing a Workplace That Optimizes for Movement and Mobility
Explore the research:
Outpatient Healthcare Experience Index

4. People Are Reevaluating Their Relationships With Cities

The pandemic disrupted city life so much that many people in urban centers around the world are taking a hard look at where they live, what they need to be happy, and whether they can find more affordable and fulfilling lives elsewhere.

Read the blogs:
Cities Are Rebounding, But Their Relationship With Residents Is Changing
Rethinking the Ways Cities Can Invest in Vital Neighborhoods
Will Remote Work Trends Benefit Smaller, More Affordable Cities?
See it in practice:
Embracing Collective Memory to Redress Injustice in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill
Explore the research:
City Pulse Survey Fall 2021

5. Adaptive Reuse and Sustainable Materials Are Essential for Meeting Climate Goals

Most carbon reduction efforts in the building sector only focus on operational efficiency. In order to create a net-zero future by 2030, the industry must turn its attention to embodied carbon and get serious about making sure older building stock can be reused into efficient, carbon-neutral structures.

Read Co-CEO Diane Hoskins on CNN:
When It Comes to Cutting Carbon Emissions, the Real Estate Industry Is Running out of Time
Read the blogs:
Stranded Assets: Realizing the Potential of Old Malls and Abandoned Office Parks
The Benefits of Converting Class C Office Into First Class Residential
See it in practice:
How The Link Drives Sustainable Design Strategies in Downtown Denver
Explore the research:
Climate Action 2021: The Adaptive Reuse Revolution

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